BOISE, Idaho — The state reported more than 12,000 Idahoans have received their first dose of the vaccine Wednesday and nearly 869,000 Idahoans are now fully vaccinated. However, with the new doses, the statewide vaccination rate is lower than it has been because the state began including the 5-11-year-old age group.
According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, 50.8 percent of Idahoans are fully vaccinated, which is more than a six percent drop compared to Monday's data.
More than 20,000 children in the 5-11-year-old age range have received at least one dose and 7,814 are fully vaccinated. According to the U.S. Census, Idaho has 176,961 children in that age range.
"When the vaccine was available initially for the 5-11 group, we saw a significant demand that increased and then over the next four or five weeks there's been a steady decline," said Dr. David Peterman, CEO of Primary Health Medical Group.
While more age groups and demographics are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and booster, Peterman said there haven't been drastic changes from what his clinics have seen within the past few months.
"What we're seeing right now, I wouldn't call it an increase, but we're seeing three different groups of people," Peterman said. He added those groups are those receiving their vaccine for the first time, getting their second dose and those following up six months later for their booster.
Primary Health gives out about 5,000-6,000 vaccine doses a week, according to Peterman.
"We could do many more vaccines and frankly, for the sake of the community, we wish we were doing more vaccines," Peterman said.
Peterman said many of those getting their second doses are children.
Whereas Primary Health is seeing fewer 5-11-year-olds come in, Saint Alphonsus Health System is seeing the opposite.
"I personally think it has increased relative to the beginning," Dr. Michael Wheaton, a pediatrician at the Saint Alphonsus Garrity Pediatric Clinic. "I think there was a huge surge with people wanting to get vaccinated. I think it's still occurring at least at our Nampa facilities."
Wheaton said at his clinic in Nampa, staff regularly give out 10-15 doses per day.
He believes he's seen an increase for that age range since they've become eligible is because parents may have had questions when it comes to vaccine safety and their children.
"I'll be honest with you, I've been pleasantly surprised," Wheaton said. "Usually after talking to [the parents], a majority of them do proceed in getting the vaccine for the children." He adds providing parents and their families with safety information and offering his own personal experiences with getting his children vaccinated helps make a decision.
Even with an increase and more vaccine eligibility, there is still a lot of availability for the vaccine at Saint Alphonsus.
"If they're in for a normal visit, I give the vaccine no problem. We have plenty of vaccines," Wheaton said.
Peterman and Wheaton both continue to state what's been said multiple times with the past year; the best line of defense against COVID-19 is getting vaccinated and boosted. Peterman asks people to continue to mask up while out in public.
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